There is an extremely disturbing story out of Iran this morning that seven lawyers in Tabriz and Mashhad have been killed. These brave attorneys were reportedly representing Iranian detainees in the post-presidential protests.
It is well known that the authorities have threatened and attempted to scare off lawyers from assisting these protesters. These lawyers represent the ideal of the bar and refused to be deterred in their mission.
Sources say that the bodies of the lawyers were returned to their families by the government. After the lawyers began representing the protesters, they were themselves accused of disrupting security and encouraging unethical actions against the regime. Five were sentenced to three years each in jail and three died for injuries suffered during their incarceration. Families said that they were beaten so badly that they could not be recognized.
Two of the lawyers were executed after being sentenced to death for drug possession — charges that the families insist were manufactured to secure their death sentences.
In a couple weeks, I will be addressing the incoming class of students at George Washington, as I do each year. I often speak of the pressures of practice. I talk to the students about our heroes including such fictional characters like Atticus Finch. Of course, Finch never existed but these seven lawyers (and lawyers like them fighting in other countries like China) do exist and should be an inspiration for us all. They also show that, while there are lawyers like John Yoo and others who eager to assist in the curtailment of human rights, there are others who are willing to lay down their lives for the rule of law.
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